HP TouchPad review

£400
Price when reviewed

But then you look at what isn’t there, using the small “For TouchPad” labels as the only clunky way to distinguish tablet-specific apps. There’s no integrated Twitter app, for example, a problem we couldn’t rectify. As of yet none of the major Twitter clients has got involved, and we’re not sure the one remaining working tablet option, a perfectly good client bizarrely called Spaz HD, will go down too well on these shores.

HP TouchPad

It’s not so much the strong US bias that put us off the App Catalog, more the knowledge that it’s yet another fledgling tablet app store, with all the perils that brings.

A few names have been coaxed aboard for launch, with Sky News and a very good Epicurious cookery app, but several (Kindle for example) simply launch with a message that says an app will be coming soon. The tablet-specific selection will need to grow at dazzling speed match either the quality or quantity of iOS App Store, and it’s crying out for a means of filtering them from the more numerous smartphone apps.

HP TouchPad

Performance

Then there’s the TouchPad’s performance. It has a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, but at times it doesn’t show it. A SunSpider JavaScript test time of 4,036ms is almost twice that of the iPad 2 and Asus Eee Pad Transformer, and although the webOS browser does support Flash, it struggled and slowed when faced with many popular sites that use it. The BBC homepage loaded in seven seconds, scrolling the browser was often a jerky experience, and the whole thing took 1min 7secs to boot.

Battery life is reasonable, with the TouchPad hanging on for 7hrs 16mins playing a video clip non-stop with Wi-Fi disabled. That’s nearly on a par with the Eee Pad Transformer, but still some way back from the iPad 2. HP offers an optional inductive Touchstone charging cradle that doubles up as a stand; it angles things nicely for video, but it charges at a snail’s pace and will set you back £57 inc VAT.

HP TouchPad

There are a few other nice features, but they’re not quite ready yet. When the HP Pre 3 and Veer arrive you’ll be able to pair them up with your TouchPad and pass what’s on one screen across to the other just by touching them together. You’ll also be able to answer a call or text coming in to the phone directly on the tablet. Finally, if you have a recent HP printer, the TouchPad can print wirelessly to it.

The verdict

The TouchPad will cost £400 inc VAT for the 16GB version, or £480 for 32GB – identical to the same two capacities of Wi-Fi-only iPad 2. We’re not sure that’s sensible: the webOS ecosystem is currently weak by comparison and desperately needs numbers, while the plasticky, thick chassis of the TouchPad itself doesn’t exactly feel like an Apple-quality product.

It’s a real shame, because while webOS is sorely lacking in apps and needs an update or two to fix performance issues, there’s no denying the core of the OS is at times wonderful. The interface is let down by a lot of things around and on top of it, and that makes the price tag look too high. Buying into webOS at this point is a risk for consumers, after all, and HP would do well to remember that.

Detail

Physical

Dimensions240 x 13.7 x 190mm (WDH)
Weight740g

Display

Primary keyboardOn-screen
Screen size9.7in
Resolution screen horizontal1,024
Resolution screen vertical768
Display typeColour touchscreen LCD
Panel technologyTN

Core specifications

CPU frequency, MHz1,200MHz
Integrated memory16.0GB

Camera

Camera megapixel ratingN/A
Focus typeN/A
Built-in flash typeN/A
Front-facing camera?yes
Video capture?yes

Other

WiFi standard802.11n
Bluetooth supportyes
Integrated GPSyes
Upstream USB ports1
HDMI output?no
Video/TV output?no

Software

Mobile operating systemwebOS 3

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